Is honesty really always the best policy with children?
Most parents would admit to lying to their children at some point. Parents often feel it is easier to lie to their children when telling them the truth means upsetting them or letting them down.
At BLOOM, it is our professional belief that you should always be honest with your children. Just remember being honest doesn’t necessarily mean telling them everything.
In this blog, we will unpack why we often lie to our children, the importance of honesty, and how to build a strong relationship with your child.
Telling Small Lies to Your Child
“I tell my kids that when the ice cream truck plays music, it means he is out of ice cream for the day.”
“If you get out of bed, monsters are going to come and eat your feet.”
“Spinach makes you strong.”
These are all things we have said or have been tempted to say for the sake of our children. Or, at least, that is what we tell ourselves. Many of us were lied to as children, and so we believe that lying to our children is just another cornerstone of parenting. Yet, it doesn’t make it right.
An environment of honesty creates security and safety.
Many parents will say it doesn’t count if the child doesn’t explicitly know we are lying. It’s simply not true. Children can sense that we are lying, and that sense gives them a feeling of insecurity. It makes them feel like they don’t know what is going on, as if they have no control over their surroundings.
Security and safety are the backbones of a child’s well-being. Some behavioral and even learning issues can often be linked to a lack of security in the child’s home.
Occupational therapy works specifically on helping children calm down, become less anxious, and feel secure in their homes and surroundings. Honesty in the home creates the type of security that helps children be in sync with their parents.
Isn’t that what we were looking for in the first place before we were not truthful?
So, if lying causes so much havoc for our kids, why do we do it?
Why We Lie to Our Children
There is a negative effect of adult lies on children’s honesty. So why, as parents, do we do it anyway? The two top reasons parents often give for not being honest with their kids are: (1) for their protection (2) because it was just easier.
It’s understandable to want to protect your children from information that is not age appropriate. The world is filled with many things you may not want to expose your children to yet. Still, protecting our children from the evils of the world by exposing them to the tumultuous reality that we cannot always believe what mommy says doesn’t seem to make sense.
There is a way to speak to our kids while remaining honest and not telling them the whole truth.
If you and your friends are having an ‘adult’ conversation and your child wants to know what all the fuss is about, don’t pretend you were organizing the town bake-off. Tell them. “It’s a private conversation for adults only.”
Just like our kids are taught that not everything belongs to them in terms of toys or possessions, they can also understand that this applies to ideas or knowledge—some things they are allowed to know about and other things they are not.
But what if it’s just easier to lie?
We understand that parenting is hard. Giving them the if-they-get-out-of-bed-one-more-time-the-boogie-man-will-eat-their-feet is particularly appealing when sleep evades you.
Yet, the easy choices we make today can have detrimental consequences in the future.
Why Honesty is Important With Your Children
Being honest is the core element in maintaining all meaningful relationships. If your child is used to getting lied to today, they will often choose similar types of relationships in the future. That means friends in school, friends out of school, and even partners might be chosen because of their propensity to lie or skirt the truth.
Being honest with our children is hard, but raising children who can’t trust what you say is even harder.
Online Parent Communication Resources
We’ll say it again: parenting is hard. There is no manual for how to do it “right” or “best.”
Every parent has different needs because every child is different. At BLOOM, we provide resources and support that meet you and your child at your point of need.